Laura Ch. 03byshandal©
This is a romantic thriller, with lots of interaction between the central characters, and lots of twists and turns. Life has its ups and downs, and as in this story about Laura and Chris, nothing runs smoothly.
I hope you enjoy their love story.
The morning was half over, the nurse had been, and Laura had kept looking up the road through the front window, and still no sign of him. Just like a man to let you down she thought. All morning Mrs J and she had been making plans, and escape was getting more real. They discussed setting up the bank account and a PO box in the name of Rebecca Jackson, obtaining the money and having it put in the account, buying the black dye for her hair, setting up a new life with the money far away from here.
So why did she keep looking out the window wondering if he would turn up today to repair the garden gate. She had only met him yesterday, but somehow there was a part of her that missed him not turning up today, and last night she was shocked at her reaction of seeing him with that woman.
Turning away from the window and walking into the sitting room, she sat down on the chair next to Mrs J on the sofa and smiled at the old lady sitting quietly watching the mid morning television programme. They sat there together watching as guests came and went, plugging their films or books, until suddenly the doorbell rang and Laura's body jumped at the shrill sound and Mrs J said "Well go answer it you silly girl, you know you've been waiting for him to come all morning." Calming herself as she walked up the hall to the door and opening it she found Chris standing one hand in his jeans pocket, the other holding a large heavy tool box.
"Hi, sorry I'm late, I got delayed," and half turning towards the front gate. "I'll get started on the gate, if you start brewing up the coffee. I need a caffeine fix big time right now."
She blurted out as he walked away from her towards the gate, "You look different!"
He turned back towards her, his free hand rubbing his now clean chin. "Yeah, must be Wednesday. I'm always clean shaven on Wednesday." and then as casually as he could he enquired "like it?"
Laura looked up at him, a serious look on her face, her eyes drinking in his now revealed features. "You've got dimples!"
Chris laughed "Yeah, but don't tell anyone." and turning away walked up to the gate, a big smile on his face. He felt elated. Slipping out of his jacket he knelt down by the gate and started the repairs, his mind mulling over the position he had found himself in, and what he should do about it.
He knew he was in love, and he now had a connection to his love, but there was nowhere to go with his feelings. She was married to that bastard, and he knew he had no right to her, no real way to express his feelings. But he knew he could give her something and that was a friendship and support, just like Mrs Jackson had said to him. He would be there for her, give whatever she needed without putting pressure on her. Be a real friend.
Trish was sweet and he liked her very much, and maybe if he had met her before seeing Laura months ago he could have fallen for her, but there was no room for loving her in his soul, all space was taken up by a woman he couldn't have. He had been honest with Tricia and she had offered her friendship to him, understanding that his heart was taken, but content to accept whatever relationship he gave her.
As he worked on the gate, rubbing down the wood Laura watched out of the window. Suddenly she caught herself, for the last ten minutes she had stood there at the window admiring his body. She was shocked at herself for she realised she had been comparing his body to Roberts.
Whilst Robert worked out in the gym regularly he was not as strong and well built as the man in the garden. Long back tapered down from wide shoulders to narrow hips. His jeans pulled down slightly from kneeling revealed dark olive skin and the denim clung tightly to his thighs as he knelt down outlining long masculine legs. In fact Laura decided there was a natural masculine charisma that sat well with Chris, enhanced by his laid back nature, whilst Robert strutted to achieve his.
Going to the kitchen she poked her head around the door of the sitting room to check on the old lady enquiring if she would like anything to eat or drink.
"Just some water love."
"How about trying a little Orange Juice Mrs J?"
"Alright, just a little, just for you."
Brewing up the coffee, she went into the sitting room and helped the old lady to have a drink. Encouraging her to take more food and drink was getting harder, and from her experience of working for the hospice in her role she knew it would not be long before the move to the hospice would have to be made. But until then Laura would try to make home life as comfortable and normal as she could.
Setting up the bank account this afternoon made her nervous, but a basic bank account could be set up with supporting identification, all of which was here under the name of Rebecca Jackson in one form or another. The Birth Certificate was the main identification she needed and that she had, and there was also the up to date electricity and gas bills. Amongst the stuff she had found upstairs was Rebecca's national insurance card and health registration card.
Laura had found an office in the yellow pages that offered temporary mailing services so she could arrange for all mail addressed to Rebecca Jackson to be diverted to the address drop for her to collect until she could find a new place to live and then have the mail redirected there. The black hair dye and make up would change her look enough when the time came to then help her to run away, change her identity and set up a new life.
Finishing getting the coffee and biscuits ready she took them into the sitting room and put them on the table, then went out to where Chris still knelt hammering away at a joint in the wooden gate.
He looked up stopping his work, wiped his forehead with the back of his arm, and waited quietly for Laura to speak. She stood above him looking down, a flustered look on her face. "Coffee's on the table" and off she ran back to the house.
Chris sat back on his heels, a smile on his face realising she was flustered. He liked that, it meant she wasn't completely unaware of him as a man. Getting up and going inside he called out asking if he could use the bathroom to clean up a little. Laura stuck her head out of the sitting room and pointing upstairs said "First door on the right"
After cleaning up and going downstairs Chris sauntered into the sitting room and hunkering down in front of the old lady said "Hello gorgeous, and how's my new girlfriend today, missed me?"
"Behave yourself young man, I'm old enough to be your grandmother!"
"I've always had a penchant for the older woman." and getting up, he picked up the frail hand and kissed the back of it before turning round to sit at the table with Laura, picking up the coffee cup, smelling it and with a sigh "Ahhh my caffeine fix, I could live without anything but my caffeine fix" took a long sip and sat back staring at Laura next to him at the end of the table.
Still flustered for some reason "What, what are you staring at?" and her hand went up to her left cheek, trying to cover the mark marring her soft complexion.
Not wanting to upset her Chris answered "You have the most lovely eyes, did you know that?" and turning around in his chair "Don't you think so Mrs J," and turning back to Laura who now was blushing, "Deep green, the kind of eyes a man could drown in." Then picking up his cup again and sipping asked offhandedly "Did you and your husband go home after drinking at the bar last night?"
"No. No we went out for a meal at the Indian restaurant over by the river. Do you know the one I mean?' she looked down at her cup and quietly said "Did you and that girl you were with stay long at the bar?" and then looking up again at him asked "Did you go out afterwards for a meal?"
"Trish and I stayed a little after you and your husband left......How long have you been married?"
"Just over five years."
"How did you meet? Looks like a successful man. Sharp suit, lots of friends. You must have a busy social life."
Laura paused, turning her cup round and round in front of her, a frown between her brows, her body language stiffening up.
"He's successful, that's how we met, I work for a hospice looking after patients at home as a home help. His mother was dying of cancer, and he paid the hospice to look after her as he was so busy. He would come to visit her occasionally and things just went from there." She looked up at him "When she died he asked me out and we married a few months after that."
"You must have loved him very much to get married so quickly. What did your family say?"
Laura's head bent down again, folding her arms and leaning on them against the table surface. "I have no family. I was brought up in foster homes from the age of four. I left the last foster home at sixteen and had lived by myself until I met Robert." She looked up at Chris, and gave a weak smile "He was my knight in shining armour. Taking me out of the little bedsit I lived in, and I moved into his house. I was just nineteen when we met."
Listening to her talk about her marriage was like picking at a scab to Chris, but he couldn't help himself, he needed to know everything about her.
"What about you? Are you and the girl you were with last night married? You don't wear a ring, but not all men do."
"No Trish and I aren't married" his hand lifted up and slowly moved her hair back behind her ear and asked "did he do that? Did he hit you? ...... no don't run away" and grabbing her hand as she started to rise "Look I'm not judging you, so please don't be embarrassed, but yesterday I told you if you need a friend I'm here, and I think you need a friend."
"It was an accident. He didn't mean to. He gets wound up at work and I get things wrong at home all the time. It won't happen again" and she walked into the kitchen, her arms around her waist, tears in her eyes; she moved to the sink and leaning over it, stood as the tears quietly ran down her cheek.
Gentle arms came round her from behind pulling her back against his warm hard body and a soft deep voice said "Let the tears come Laura." And with a great sob she turned around and cried her heart out against the man she had only met the day before.
Chris held Laura, one arm holding her against him, the other stoking her hair, his face buried in the top of her head, letting her cry against him, feeling her body shake with each deep sob. They stood like that for a while until her crying quietened down and she leaned slightly back, looking at the front of his light grey tee shirt, she sniffled "I've made you soaking wet."
"I won't wash it ever again. Here want to use it to wipe your nose." And lifting up the hem at the bottom of the cotton tee shirt offered it to her, exposing a hard flat stomach with a light swirl of black hair surrounding the indent of his navel and disappearing in a thin line to the waistband of his jeans.
Laura laughed and sniffed, shaking her head said "Save your clothes, there's a paper kitchen roll over there," and moving across to pick it up off the counter she tore off a piece and blew her nose.
Chris felt bereft the moment she had moved out of his arms. He could still feel the imprint of her small body where it had pressed against his. His heart was breaking for her and as she took another piece of paper towel from the roll he moved behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders and turned her round again to face him.
"Last night I saw you with him, you seemed so close. How often does he hit you?"
"Like I said, only when he gets wound up at work."
"You could leave him."
"Yes I could, but where would I go?"
"You could stay with me."
"Don't be silly I hardly know you."
"I would protect you."
She looked up into his eyes, "I believe you would, but I can't do that."
"If you ever change your mind just let me know. I'll give you my mobile number and if you ever need me give me a call." And he fished into his back pocket and pulling out his wallet took out a business card and gave it to her.
She looked down at the card and read out loud "Christopher Rubin, Master Carpenter" and then in a soft almost inaudible whisper, "thank you friend." *
Watching and listening to the two young people the woman on the couch felt content even though her life was coming to an end. She had come to think of Laura as family and had worried about her and her situation, but now she felt relieved. Even if the two people talking quietly to each other in the kitchen couldn't see it, she could. She saw it yesterday, the way his eyes watched the young girl, the gentle way he spoke to her, that his body language shouted out how he felt. He reminded her of her husband Harry, such a good man, such a kind man. She missed him every day, and now she was going to join him and that made her happy.
This stupid illness had taken away her strength and every day now was more difficult, the pills, the injections, the medication to control the pain, but Laura, the nurse, and the night home help Sarah made life bearable. Soon she would have to go to the Hospice and the young man would be there for Laura, she knew it in her heart, knew that Laura would get the courage to escape that man she was married to, the humiliation and hurt, and go onto a new life.
The lottery money would be her contribution to the young girl's second chance.
Handing in the completed forms along with the three pieces of ID, Laura sat in the little cubicle with the bank representative. Her nerves were stretched to breaking point as she realised she was committing fraud, opening up an account with someone else's name and papers. She never would have thought that she would come to this all those years ago. Meeting Robert was supposed to be the start of her life, filled with promise and hope, but here she was sitting opposite someone and breaking the law, just to escape him and save herself.
So many times he had threatened her that if she left him he would find her and really hurt her, and she believed him. He was a vindictive man; she had witnessed this trait in him before, when a colleague was promoted over him, in revenge he engineered it so that the poor man was eventually sacked.
The violence was getting more sexual, more vicious, and whereas before there would be months between outbursts, they seemed to be more often and closer together so that she was scared to go home to him, never quite sure what was going to happen.
She knew people had noticed the bruises, and she was so embarrassed by them knowing. In the newsagents down the road she had seen Mrs Patel looking at her lip the other week and read the shock and then the pity in her eyes. At the dry cleaners this afternoon picking up Roberts suit she saw the man serving her notice the bruise on her cheek, and then was unable to look her in the eye as he took her money.
However hard she tried to cover it up with makeup, it showed through.
Her manager Rhiannon at the Hospice had spoken to her last month, advising her about a woman's refuge, how she could go there, but Laura was so mortified that they had guessed at work she had just hung her head in shame and then flushed and embarrassed ran, to the toilet and cried. The refuge was not far and she would never be sure when she went out that he wouldn't be there to attack her.
No, running away and changing her identity was the way, cutting off all avenues of him being able to track her down. Starting off fresh, somewhere he would never think to look for her. Somewhere people come and go all the time, so that she would blend in.
He sat relaxed on the hotel bed, the remains of the breakfast on the tray next to him, the girl sat wrapped in a towel at the end of the bed.
Last night she did whatever he asked, eager to please him, even if she was a little shocked at his requests. She sat there perched quietly watching and waiting like a little pet dog waiting to be given an order. He was very tempted to see if he could push her a little further, but gave it a second thought. Best to lead her slowly and not scare her off, besides the anticipation of the next time would be all that much sweeter.
They had until noon before they had to check out, plenty of time to have a little more fun, and moving the tray down to the floor beside the bed he said to the young girl, "Sweetheart stand up and drop the towel, let me see that sweet little arse of yours." and slowly she stood up, released the towel and turned around, waiting silently to see what he wanted her to do next.
Laura had sat up until one o'clock that night but there had been no sign of Robert. She had slept fitfully, waking every so often, listening to see if he was in the house. But he never came home that night and now it was lunch time on Saturday and she guessed he had spent the night with the little blond from work.
Over the last three days Chris had come each morning and worked on the garden, breaking the morning up with sitting down at the big walnut table with her and talking over coffee. He explained to her that he worked for himself as a specialist carpenter loving the texture, the look and the beauty of wood. That for the past couple of months he has been working on restoring an old Georgian house in the outskirts of town that had been neglected in the past, and the new owners were bringing back to life.
He told her about his old BSA motor bike and how he loved to travel on it, roaming around and finding places off the beaten track, and how when he was a younger man he had travelled around New Zealand on an old Norton and that it had been his dream to buy and restore one someday. She listened and watched him as he talked, his eyes crinkling at the corners when he smiled, the stubble now growing back on his jaw and around his mouth, a few strands of hair falling over his forehead from the unruly tumble on his head.
And he would ask her about herself, gently pulling from her the story of her life, her time in the fostering system, her childhood dreams, what music she liked, but never touching again upon the bruise, the abuse, or Robert and her life with him.
Every afternoon he would disappear and she would feel a little lonely.
Setting up the mail drop in the name of Rebecca Jackson, and getting the Post office to set the divert to drop off any post in that name put her plan that little more in place, but she knew she would miss Chris when the time came to leave. He had become a friend. Someone she felt comfortable with, someone she instinctively trusted and felt safe with. Someone that seemed to care about her.
Chris sat on the top of the hill, taking a deep breath and filling his lungs with the fresh air. He sat there for a long time watching the people around him, some walking dogs, some with children who ran and laughed as they rolled down the side of the hill. Couples walked hand in hand, or with arms around each other, and an old couple sat on the bench next to him holding hands in a comfortable silence that only those that knew each other well can do. He felt somehow disengaged from everyone, an observer not part of the bustle around him.
He wished Laura was sitting here next to him, her hand in his, sitting here watching and sharing the early autumn morning with him. He looked up at the sky, gentle clouds hung in the blue sky, and trees rustled in the breeze, already starting to turn the many shades of brown and orange that came with the changing season.
Closing his eyes he pictured her face as she sat at the table with him talking, her eyes never leaving his face as he spoke, drinking in his tales of adventure and travel across the world. She had smiled that little smile as he had told her about how he loved to work with wood, to see the beautiful grains in the wood appear, the tactile feel of the different woods he worked with, and the depth of colours they all gave when waxed and polished.